Strategic planning rarely is associated with increased energy and rekindled passion – at least not initially.
Management teams used to be sequestered in stuffy conference rooms with unrealistic expectations of creating inspirational strategic plans over a two-day weekend. What usually resulted was a plan that very few people understood, never mind were excited to follow.
We propose a different process all together. These five steps will help you sharpen your strategic thinking skills and help you create inspirational goals and visions that others want to follow.
Set aside one day on your calendar for an away-from-the-office strategic-thinking session.
Go to your favorite coffee shop or quiet place for a change of scenery. Focus on the future, free from constant interruptions. Visualize where you want to take your business in the next year. Record all the ideas that come to mind. At this stage, avoid making judgments. Simply let your mind wander and allow the natural brainstorming process to take place. Think big about yourself, your team, and your organization.
Organize your thoughts and ideas.
After you have collected your ideas, begin looking for common themes or patterns. Group them into categories: financial, product development, personal development, operational, etc.
Strategically develop each category with measurable goals.
After you’ve identified your primary categories and main goals, start adding additional objectives. Think about what you want for the coming year. Determine when you wish to accomplish each goal. For a one-year strategic plan, you will probably end up with 3-10 goals or action steps under each category.
Set dates for completing each goal.
Divide your notepad into 12 columns (one for each month) and begin mapping out when you want each goal or action step to be completed. If you manage a team, it may be helpful to assign responsibilities for completing or spearheading each goal.
Review your plan and identify a “theme” for the year.
Once your plan is set, you likely will see a theme emerging. Themes are important reminders for how and where to focus throughout the year. For example: “getting ready to sell”; “people first”; “maintaining market share”; and “breaking through” can serve as powerful mantras to help you stay on track when executing your strategic plan.
Strategic planning can be done in small steps and doesn’t require extensive off-site retreats to be effective. Remember, however, that all the planning in the world won’t accomplish your goals. Only by implementing your plan will you see results.
These basic steps will help you focus on the future and get energized about what you can accomplish—starting with just one day’s planning and dedication.